Beware the baboon!

As a child growing up in rural Africa, I do not recall many instances where we warned about potential danger from wild animals. I suppose we never really interacted with anything that could be dangerous other than the occasional venomous snake (and we were constantly being told to wear shoes when outside, which we rarely did, so they obviously did not worry us too much!)

One thing that we did see from time to time though, were baboons. They were frequent visitors at the Bloukrans River Bridge which I wrote about in A river of cola. The warnings from my parents never to trust a baboon, and to keep the car windows closed on the rare occasions we stopped to watch them were well heeded.

I still have a very healthy respect for these animals – they can be quite vicious when threatened and are well capable of doing serious damage to a human adult. But they are also a delight to watch, mostly because they have so many habits and pleasures which are so similar to ours.

Oh, heaven is ..... being groomed by another female. Don't you love the expression of pure bliss?!

Oh, heaven is ….. being groomed by another female. Don’t you love the expression of pure bliss?!

Up a bit.... now down. Oh, that is so nice.....

Up a bit…. now down. Oh, that is so nice…..

This post is a photographic tribute to this amazing species, which also goes by the name Chacma Baboon and/or Bobbejaan. The latin scholars will know them as Papio hamadryas ursinus which is a rather sophisticated name for a hairy critter with a pink behind!

Baboon-proof lid on the bin

Baboon-proof lid on the bin

I can be separated from my lunch very quickly if a troop of baboons arrives, as was the case on the day when I took the photo below! My companions were vastly amused as I gathered up my sandwiches and made a quick retreat – those warnings from my parents (many years ago) still ringing in my ears. I was taking no chances!

The fence around the day camp area was broken and the animals had been in a few times to see what they could find! All the bins in the area are specially made to prevent the baboons from being able to open them.

Baboons will scavenge for scraps if given half a chance.

Baboons will scavenge for scraps if given half a chance.

The baby baboons are the most amusing of all. They are incredibly inquisitive, but also rather shy of wandering too far from their mothers. Their facial expressions are just delightful!

Anyone like to suggest a caption for what this baby baboon is thinking? :-)

These sorts of behaviours and expressions are very characteristic

Anyone like to suggest a caption for what this baby baboon is thinking? 🙂

(This post is part of the series on African animals that I have watched, enjoyed and photographed. For posts on other species, please use the Wildlife > Africa menu at the top of this page.)

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This entry was posted in Africa, Image Gallery, Kruger National Park, South Africa, Travel, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Beware the baboon!

  1. scrapydo says:

    Yes they are cute when they are still babies. Frowning and moving their eye brows makes them so cute. One day while we were watching some baboons my husband threw out a xxx mint. First one picked it up licked it , next one grabbed it and put it in his mouth, out it came and went into the next ones mouth. No one really liked the taste of it but each one had a go at it.

    Like

  2. Ian Fraser says:

    Love it! Thanks for the memories Madoqua. I have a strong memory of my first day in Africa, in Windhoek. I was walking on a rocky hill at the edge of town, and looked down to the railway line where a pack of dogs was crossing. Then I suddenly realised that they were baboons and that I was truly in Africa.

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    • Madoqua says:

      It is remarkable that this memory has stayed with you. I would imagine it was a bit startling and yet exciting to have that experience.
      I have come across troops of baboons near homes in the southern Cape. I think if I lived in those sorts of places, I would have to learn not to be so concerned by these animals!
      Definitely a sign of being in Africa!

      Like

  3. They are very fascinating creatures. They expressions and characteristics are so similar to humans from the irresistible humor to their affection for their young like the last picture. And yes, just like humans they can be violent when provoked.

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